Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was already dealing with an ankle injury prior to Week 12, but on Saturday against Mississippi State, Tagovailoa needed a cart to leave the field in the second quarter.
The Heisman candidate suffered a hip injury with about three minutes left in the second quarter on a play where he rolled out of the pocket and was taken down by two defenders after releasing the ball. According to ESPN, he suffered a bloody nose and couldn’t put pressure on his right leg.
At the time of his injury, Alabama was leading 35-7.
Alabama coach Nick Saban told ESPN’s Molly McGrath in his halftime interview that Tagovailoa was still in the game to work on the two-minute drill. He also said it was going to be the quarterback’s final drive.
As it turned out, it was his final drive, as Tagovailoa needed a cart to get to the locker room and was then taken in a helicopter to St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Birmingham. Mac Jones replaced Tagovailoa in the second half.
Before exiting, Tagovailoa went 14 of 18 for 256 yards and two touchdowns.
The media is already second guessing Saban for keeping a less than 100 percent Tagovailoa in the game with a 28-point lead, but without a signature win this year and an unlikely shot at the SEC West title, Alabama is relying upon the eye test in order to make the College Football Playoff.
That means Alabama needs to outscore its remaining opponents by as wide of a margin as possible. That could have also played a role in Tagovailoa staying in the game for the two-minute drill.
Based on how the injury looked on the field and how quickly he went to the hospital, it’s hard not to assume Tagovailoa’s injury is very serious. If he isn’t back in the next three weeks, Alabama’s chances of dominating in the eye test and landing in the top four of the College Football Playoff take a severe hit.